This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.

If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.
Playing Jacques Pepin’s Chicken Ballotine Stuffed with Spinach, Cheese and Bread Stuffing

A ballottine is a whole chicken that has been boned and stuffed.  Showy enough for company, it can be prepared up to a day ahead.  (Freeze the bones and the neck, gizzard, and heart for later use in soup or stock.) This bird is best cooked in a sturdy, preferably aluminum, roasting pan, to ensure a good condensation of the cooking juices, which will be used to create the sauce.

Long-grain Wehani rice has a chewy texture that I love.  I cook it with mushrooms in stock and then flavor it with leeks and onions for the stuffing. As an alternative, you can stuff the ballottine with a combination of spinach, cheese, and cubed bread or any other stuffing. The ballottine is served with a rich wine sauce made with the defatted chicken drippings and a mixture of finely diced vegetables called a brunoise.


  • 1 chicken (about 3 ¾ pounds), boned
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Red Rice Stuffing (see note above) or Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing
For the Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 5 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 ½ cups cubed (½-inch) bread
For the sauce:
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 celery stalk (2 ounces), peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (½ cup)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (½ cup)
  • 1 carrot (2 ounces), peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (⅓ cup)
  • ½ teaspoon potato starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Serves: 4


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

For the Stuffing: heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet.  Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute to soften the garlic and wilt the spinach. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.  Reserve the cheese and bread and continue with the recipe.

Lay the chicken skin-side down on the work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread the cool rice or spinach mixture evenly over the chicken. If using the spinach stuffing, sprinkle the cheese and bread cubes on top of the spinach. Roll the chicken up, tie with kitchen twine, and place in roasting pan.

Roast the ballottine for 1 hour.  Lift it from the pan and place it on a platter.

For the Sauce: Skim off and discard most of the fat from the drippings in the pan. Add the water and wine to the drippings to deglaze the pan and heat over medium heat, stirring to loosen and melt the solidified juices.

Strain the juices into a saucepan. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 5 minutes.  Stir in the dissolved potato starch and soy sauce and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring, to thicken it.  Remove from the heat.
Transfer the ballottine to a cutting board and remove the twine.  Cut half of it into 4 or 5 slices, each about 1 inch thick.  Return the uncut half of the ballottine to the serving platter and arrange the cut slices in front of it.  Pour the sauce over and around the ballottine, garnish with the parsley, and serve.  Cut additional slices of ballottine as needed at the table.